*** Disclaimer- if this is a crisis situation or you are having active thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or someone else, please call 911, go to your nearest ER, Text Crisisline at “741741”, or call the Suicide Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255***
Considering therapy or counseling? It’s a difficult decision to come to. And can be even more challenging to follow through with it. We get it, on a professional level and personal level. Hopefully this information can make the process seem a little less daunting.
Psychiatrists are Medical Physicians who have a specialization in Mental Health Care. Like any MD, they choose an area of practice in Medical School and study in that area beyond “general” medical school. And thus Psychiatrists specialize in the diagnosis and medical treatment of Mental Health Disorders.
What does that mean to a client? Psychiatrists are the Medical Doctors who diagnose mental health disorders and prescribe medication treatment for it. Meaning if you are suffering with symptoms of a mental health issue the best doctor to treat it with medication is a Psychiatrist. They specialize in this area. They know the ins and outs .. of what works, what doesn’t, and why. Just like you would go to a Dermatologist for a concerning skin infection, you go to a Psychiatrist for the assessment and medical treatment of a mental health issue.
Do they provide therapy? Not much, and not by choice. In Freudian days, yes Psychiatrists provided therapy. But, times have changed and insurance has made it quite difficult for Psychiatrists to provide therapy. The system is no longer set up for that, or it’s very minimal. Most initial sessions with a Psychiatrist range from 15 minutes to an hour depending on multiple factors. Following that you will be rescheduled based upon your need and the MDs availability. Typically a follow up will occur a few months later (which will be a much shorter appointment- generally 15 minutes). Depending upon your symptoms, the medication prescribed, you, the MD, and your insurance will dictate how often you have to go back in to see your Psychiatrist.
How do I find a Psychiatrist? It depends on your financial situation, where you live, and a MD’s availability. The first step is to consider your insurance or lack of. If you have insurance, call the number on the back of your card under Behavioral Health. And they can assist you with finding a Psychiatrist or give you a list of Psychiatrists that are covered by your plan. Then you may likely have a long list of Doctors to choose from. So things to consider are recommendations from friends, family, or social media. Referrals from other patients or providers who know the MD is often the best way to go. As you know with all “well respected physicians” there will likely be a waiting list. And thus, you may need to get on a waiting list and ask your PCP to assist with your symptoms until then. However please do not forget to follow up with a Psychiatrist!! A specialist is always the best route for specific medical conditions. And Psychiatry is a Speciality.
If you do not have health insurance: your State has local mental health clinics that provide Mental Health Care at no charge. For example in St . Tammany Parish, Louisiana, the “Florida Parishes Human Resources Department” has several clinics like this where you can receive free or low cost treatment. They even have walk in hours (meaning you can walk in when they are open). If you need help finding one call Vialink or 211. I have included direct links to some websites for free treatment.
I hope that you find this helpful and I will continue providing information on how to navigate mental health care. Thanks! Angie